Concentrations of mercury in tissues of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from several communities in the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2002. Lockhart, W., L.; Stern, G., a.; Wagemann, R.; Hunt, R., V.; Metner, D., A.; DeLaronde, J.; Dunn, B.; Stewart, R., E., A.; Hyatt, C., K.; Harwood, L.; and Mount, K. The Science of the Total Environment, 351-352:391-412, 12, 2005.
Concentrations of mercury in tissues of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from several communities in the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2002. [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Beluga whales have been hunted for food by Native People in the Canadian Arctic since prehistoric time. Here we report the results of analyses of total mercury in samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk from collections over the period 1981-2002. We compare these results with human consumption guidelines and examine temporal and geographic variation. Liver has been analyzed more frequently than other organs and it has been used as the indicator organ. Mercury accumulates in the liver of the whales over time so that the whale ages are usually linked statistically to their levels of mercury in liver. Virtually all the samples of 566 animals analyzed contained mercury in liver at concentrations higher than the Canadian consumption guideline of 0.5 microg g-1 (wet weight) for fish. (There is no regulatory guideline for concentrations in marine mammals in Canada.) Samples from locations in the Mackenzie Delta in the western Canadian Arctic and from Pangnirtung in the eastern Canadian Arctic were obtained more often than from other location and these offered the best chances to determine whether levels have changed over time. Statistical outlier points were removed and the regressions of (ln) mercury in liver on age were used to calculate the level of mercury in whales of age 13.1 years in order to compare age-adjusted levels at different locations. These age-adjusted levels and also the slopes of regressions suggested that levels have increased in the Mackenzie Delta over the sampling period although not in a simple linear fashion. Other locations had fewer collections, generally spread over fewer years. Some of them indicated differences between sampling times but we could not establish whether these differences were simply temporal variation or whether they were segments of a consistent trend. For example, the levels in whales from Arviat were considerably higher in 1999 than in 1984 but we have only two samples. Similarly, samples from Iqaluit in 1994 exceeded considerably those in 1993 and the interval seems too short to reflect any regional temporal trend and more likely represent an extreme case of year-to-year variation. Previous analyses of data from geographically distinct groups had suggested that whales in the western Canadian Arctic had higher levels of mercury than those from the eastern Canadian Arctic. The present analysis suggests that such regional differences have diminished and are no longer statistically significant. No site has indicated significant decreases in more recent samples. The levels of total mercury in the most analyzed organs fell in the order of liver (highest levels), kidney, muscle and muktuk (lowest level). While muktuk had the lowest level of the organs most frequently analyzed, it is the preferred food item from these whales and it still exceeded the consumption guideline in most instances.
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 title = {Concentrations of mercury in tissues of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from several communities in the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2002.},
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 year = {2005},
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 abstract = {Beluga whales have been hunted for food by Native People in the Canadian Arctic since prehistoric time. Here we report the results of analyses of total mercury in samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk from collections over the period 1981-2002. We compare these results with human consumption guidelines and examine temporal and geographic variation. Liver has been analyzed more frequently than other organs and it has been used as the indicator organ. Mercury accumulates in the liver of the whales over time so that the whale ages are usually linked statistically to their levels of mercury in liver. Virtually all the samples of 566 animals analyzed contained mercury in liver at concentrations higher than the Canadian consumption guideline of 0.5 microg g-1 (wet weight) for fish. (There is no regulatory guideline for concentrations in marine mammals in Canada.) Samples from locations in the Mackenzie Delta in the western Canadian Arctic and from Pangnirtung in the eastern Canadian Arctic were obtained more often than from other location and these offered the best chances to determine whether levels have changed over time. Statistical outlier points were removed and the regressions of (ln) mercury in liver on age were used to calculate the level of mercury in whales of age 13.1 years in order to compare age-adjusted levels at different locations. These age-adjusted levels and also the slopes of regressions suggested that levels have increased in the Mackenzie Delta over the sampling period although not in a simple linear fashion. Other locations had fewer collections, generally spread over fewer years. Some of them indicated differences between sampling times but we could not establish whether these differences were simply temporal variation or whether they were segments of a consistent trend. For example, the levels in whales from Arviat were considerably higher in 1999 than in 1984 but we have only two samples. Similarly, samples from Iqaluit in 1994 exceeded considerably those in 1993 and the interval seems too short to reflect any regional temporal trend and more likely represent an extreme case of year-to-year variation. Previous analyses of data from geographically distinct groups had suggested that whales in the western Canadian Arctic had higher levels of mercury than those from the eastern Canadian Arctic. The present analysis suggests that such regional differences have diminished and are no longer statistically significant. No site has indicated significant decreases in more recent samples. The levels of total mercury in the most analyzed organs fell in the order of liver (highest levels), kidney, muscle and muktuk (lowest level). While muktuk had the lowest level of the organs most frequently analyzed, it is the preferred food item from these whales and it still exceeded the consumption guideline in most instances.},
 bibtype = {article},
 author = {Lockhart, W L and Stern, G a and Wagemann, R and Hunt, R V and Metner, D A and DeLaronde, J and Dunn, B and Stewart, R E A and Hyatt, C K and Harwood, L and Mount, K},
 journal = {The Science of the Total Environment}
}
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